Focused Ultrasound Therapy
Focused ultrasound is a rapidly evolving, noninvasive, therapeutic technology with the potential to improve the quality of life and decrease the cost of care for patients with liver tumors. This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasound energy precisely and accurately on targets deep in the body without damaging surrounding normal tissue.
How it Works
Where the beams converge, focused ultrasound produces several therapeutic effects that are being evaluated.
One mechanism is the production of precise ablation (thermal destruction of tissue). This destruction can be done to completely destroy the target or to partially treat it, and partial treatment is believed to stimulate the patient’s immune response, which may have a broader impact.
Another mechanism is the use of mechanical (non-thermal) histotripsy to destroy the tumor.
A third mechanism is to use focused ultrasound to cause hyperthermia which enables the local release and absorption of a therapeutic that is contained in the blood stream.
The primary options for treatment of liver tumors include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, localized destruction of the tumor tissue (via radiofrequency ablation, alcohol injection, cryosurgery, or laser photocoagulation), or combination of two or more of these options. The long-term solution for primary liver cancer is often liver transplantation.
For certain patients, focused ultrasound could provide a noninvasive alternative to surgery with less risk of complications – such as surgical wound healing or infection – at a lower cost. It can reach the desired target without damaging surrounding tissue and is repeatable, if necessary. Focused ultrasound can also enhance the chemotherapy dose for the target, with less impact to the rest of the patient.
A clinical trial in the UK is recruiting patients with colorectal cancer and metastasis to the liver. It uses focused ultrasound to activate a microbubble preparation designed to improve the penetration of chemotherapy to the liver.
A clinical study involves enhancing drug delivery due to heating the thermosensitive lysosome containing chemotherapy with focused ultrasound in pediatric patients and young adults.
A clinical trial in Trondheim, Norway, is using focused ultrasound to pre-treat patients with metastatic lesions in their liver due to colorectal cancer before chemotherapy doses.
A clinical trial in Tours, France, is using focused ultrasound to enhance the penetration of therapeutic medications in patients who have liver metastatic lesions from colorectal cancer.
A clinical trial is recruiting patients with solid tumors with metastatic lesions, including liver cancer, at the University of Virginia.
A pair of clinical trials are using histotripsy to treat liver tumors. The trial in the US is close to completion and is targeting 45 participants. Treatment locations in the US are at Miami Cancer Institute ivettec@BaptistHealth.net , Tampa General Hospital email@example.com , University of Chicago firstname.lastname@example.org, University of Kansas email@example.com, University of Michigan Hospital firstname.lastname@example.org, University of Wisconsin UW South email@example.com, and Medical College of Wisconsin/Froedtert Hospital firstname.lastname@example.org. The trial in Europe has completed enrollment with 24 participants.
For a full list of clinical trials, please click here.
See a list of treatment sites >
See a list of laboratory research sites >
Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement
A focused ultrasound system has been approved in China, Russia, Europe, and Korea for treatment of liver cancer.
To the best of our knowledge, the use of focused ultrasound to treat liver cancer is not yet widely reimbursed by medical insurance.
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Click here for additional references from PubMed.
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